Federal Court Upholds Firearms Rights For 18-20-Year-Olds
The federal Third Circuit Court of Appeals, which covers Pennsylvania, ruled on January 18, 2024, in the case of Lara v. Commissioner, State Police, that 18-20-year-olds may carry firearms outside their homes for lawful purposes, including self-defense. The Court held that words “the people” in the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution presumptively encompass all adult Americans, including 18-to-20-year-olds.
A portion of the Pennsylvania Uniform Firearms Act of 1995 (“UFA”) provides that a person must be at least 21 years old to carry a concealed firearm outside the home. The Court observed that the words “the people” in the Second Amendment presumptively encompass all adult Americans, including 18-to-20-year-olds. The Court said that it was “aware of no founding-era law that supports disarming people in that age group.” It also noted that such people can vote, peaceably assemble, and have Fourth Amendment rights.
The Court held that the Second Amendment should be understood according to its public meaning in 1791. The Second Militia Act, passed by Congress five months after the Second Amendment was ratified, actually required all able-bodied men to enroll in the militia and to arm themselves upon turning 18. The Court contended that the fact that young adults had to serve in the militia indicated that founding-era lawmakers believed those youth could, and indeed should, keep and bear arms.
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